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Iraq: Najaf Authorities Arrest Militant Affiliated with Iran | ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive 2005 -2017
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Najaf, Asharq Al-Awsat- A high-level source in the local Najaf government has revealed that an individual affiliated with the militant Asaib Ahl al-Haqq organization was arrested and was found in the possession of documents and maps of high-level security areas around the city.

The source who spoke to Asharq Al Awsat on the condition of anonymity said that, “acting on information they received from intelligence sources, the security forces in the Najaf Governorate arrested an individual affiliated with one of the groups of Asaib Ahl al-Haqq, who was found in the possession of documents and maps of sensitive areas and security centers in the governorate, including Najaf Airport and Imam Ali Bin Abu-Talib Mausoleum.” He added that “after interrogations with this man were completed, he was referred to the judiciary and was sentence to 10 years in prison.”

The Asaib Ahl al-Haqq, which consists of armed groups led by cleric Qays al-Kazali, split from Al-Sadr Trend after Muqtada al-Sadr declared a halt to fighting in Al-Najaf in 2004 between US troops and Al-Sadr Trend forces. Al-Khazali, who is currently living in Iran, played a big role in the war in Najaf and managed to build bridges of confidence with Iran. He split from Al-Sadr Trend, which declared disavowal of Asaib Ahl al-Haqq. The Al-Sadr Trend leader held the group responsible for many of the acts of killing and abductions that took place in the capital Baghdad. Early this year, US troops agreed to release Al-Khazali in return for the release of five British hostages or giving information on their fate.”

Al-Sadr Trend loyalists took a blood oath on the 20th of August of this year, reaffirming their allegiance to Muqtada al-Sadr and renouncing those who dissented from Al-Sadr Trend. Sources in the Al-Sadr Trend confirmed that what is meant by dissenters is Asaib Ahl al-Haqq, which is supported by Iran.

Asked whether there are any terrorist sleeper cells in Najaf, Luayy al-Yasiri, head of the Security Committee in Al-Najaf, told Asharq Al-Awsat that “Iraq is an open arena to some criminals, Al-Qaeda organization elements, as well as remnants of the dissolved terrorist Baath Party. Dangerous men of these groups are still acting secretly, particularly because Al-Najaf is targeted by them.” He added: “We think there are terrorist sleeping cells which may cause security problems in the city. However, the security forces carried out raids on all suspected areas in Najaf, as there is security coordination with the intelligence agency, which facilitated foiling many criminal acts before they occurred.” He said: “We need support from the National Investigation and Information Agency and from all intelligence branches to uncover crimes before they occur. This is something we always emphasize in our meetings with senior officials of security departments in the Najaf Governorate.”

Al-Yasiri pointed out that “millions of visitors come to the city of Al-Najaf every year from Iraq and beyond. This requires great efforts by the security agencies and by those in charge of maintaining security and stability. The central government and the competent ministries should provide all that is needed to maintain security as well as explosives-detection equipment.”